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Monday, November 18
Updated: November 19, 1:06 PM ET
Reid questioned for not pulling McNabb

By Sal Paolantonio

PHILADELPHIA -- In this town, Monday Morning Quarterbacking is a birthright. But on this Monday, on the day after "The Franchise," Donovan McNabb, broke his ankle in 38-24 drubbing of the lowly Arizona Cardinals, the second-guessing of head coach Andy Reid became the high-minded province of everybody with a microphone and an audience.

And Reid was having none of it.

Reid spun and stonewalled and tried, at least, to satisfy his critics before a single question was asked. He suggested that no one in the Eagles organization -- not a trainer, a doctor, a coach or McNabb himself -- suspected at any time on Sunday that McNabb's right ankle was broken. He said they all believed it was just a very bad sprain, and that McNabb could play through the pain.

Donovan McNabb
McNabb might have thrown his last pass in 2002.
"Donovan was sure that he had sprained his ankle," Reid said, reading prepared remarks from Monday's news conference. "It was similar to some ankle sprains he's had before. Between Donovan's description and the examination of the medical staff, all signs pointed to a normal ankle sprain."

So, Reid allowed McNabb to play through the remainder of the first half and lead his team to a 28-14 lead. During intermission, Reid said another examination of McNabb's ankle was done -- but no X-rays were taken.

"We were able to sneak Donovan in a little early and re-examine the ankle and take the tape off and talked to Donovan and had him walk us through exactly what happened, and again, all signs pointed to an ankle sprain," Reid said. "We were able to re-tape it and let him go back out there and play."

I asked Reid specifically if any member of the medical team recommended that McNabb -- who recently received a $115 million contract, the richest in NFL history -- get an X-ray.

"No," Reid replied. "Actually, when they got in there, he said, 'Hey, I'm fine. Let's just move on and go. It's not a big deal. Tape it up. You guys are making too much out of it.' "

Reid said he did not insist that McNabb get a precautionary X-ray. And McNabb returned to play the second half, saying that he wanted to make sure that Jake Plummer did not bring the Cardinals back, as he has so many times before, especially against the Eagles.

But, why wouldn't McNabb and the Eagles trust backup quarterback Koy Detmer with a 14-point lead against the Cardinals -- especially if they don't mind handing over the rest of the season to Detmer?

I asked Reid whether at what point in the second half he wanted to just err on the side of caution and get McNabb out of the game because he was risking perhaps a career-ending injury.

"At the end, I just wanted to get him out of there, and I didn't do it because I was worried about the season or anything like that," said Reid.

Donovan was sure that he had sprained his ankle. It was similar to some ankle sprains he's had before. Between Donovan's description and the examination of the medical staff, all signs pointed to a normal ankle sprain.
Coach Andy Reid

McNabb, who did not show up to the Eagles' NovaCare Complex on Monday, is said to be mulling his options with his agent, Fletcher Smith, and his parents. The Eagles, sources say, have recommended that McNabb get surgery to repair the fracture in the fibula of his right leg. But McNabb, sources close to the situation say, is looking for a second opinion. Among the other possible options is putting a cast on the leg and letting it heal without surgery.

At any rate, McNabb is not going to be available for a minimum of six to eight weeks, according to Reid.

And that means the Eagles, with a one-game lead over the New York Giants, are headed into the meat of their schedule with a quarterback who plays a vastly different game than the man who has accounted for nearly 75 percent of the Eagles offense this season.

"You have to make sure you come in and calm the waters," said Detmer. "Right now, the ship's rocking around here."

The book on Detmer is that he's a quick decision maker who knows the Reid permutation of the West Coast offense very well. His brother, Ty, ran it well when Ray Rhodes was the head coach in Philadelphia. But Koy Detmer does not have McNabb's improvisational skills and the kind of strong arm to keep linebackers and safeties honest.

So, the Eagles expect to see defenses, especially the speedy "D" in San Francisco, crowd the line of scrimmage, try to shut down the run and make Detmer beat them in the passing game.

Around the Eagles' practice facility, however, there was a sense of just trying to survive until McNabb returns. But when that will be is anybody's guess.

"I'm looking at it like Donovan is going to take care of business and do what needs to be done, and that we don't have Donovan for the season and we move on," said Reid. "I think it's important that the football team functions that way. We have full trust in what Koy's going to do."

Just as a precaution, Reid said the Eagles will sign another quarterback soon.

Sal Paolantonio covers the NFL for ESPN.

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